Rehab 4 Addiction is a national helpline for people experiencing difficulties with drug and alcohol addiction. Each year, we receive thousands of calls from students experiencing issues with addiction. For this reason, we have decided to pull together our knowledge in this field by offering this guide specifically for students.
The majority of people who work at Rehab 4 Addiction have been through the University system themselves. Many of us experienced addiction first hand whilst we went to either university or college. This means we understand exactly what students are going through when an addiction to alcohol or drugs arises during this important period of their lives.
If you are a student suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is important to seek out help sooner rather than later. If you do not seek out help, it is likely that your studies will be significantly disrupted. Not seeking out help will also mean your addiction will inflict damage upon your physical and mental state of being.
The causes of addiction amongst students
Many students will begin their studies in a new environment. This new environment offers many students their first taste of independence and freedom. Many students will relocate to study in a different town or city to the one they were brought up in. They will thus be away from their parents, often for the first time in their lives. This new found independence opens up unfamiliar choices and a minority of students will unfortunately and often unintentionally take action that causes them to experience drug or alcohol addiction.
Another cause of addiction amongst students is the availability of drugs and alcohol in major UK towns and cities. Universities are also well known to generate revenue by selling alcohol to their students. These factors have meant many universities have become breeding grounds for drug and alcohol addiction.
Newfound independence coupled with the wide availability of drugs and alcohol, unfortunately, means many thousands of students will develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol each year. At Rehab 4 Addiction, we feel educational establishments should do more to warn students of these risks. Making students better aware of these risks will prevent many from developing an addiction in the first instance.
Types of drugs students are likely to abuse
It seems fair to say that students are more at risk of developing an addiction to certain types of drugs due to the social nature of these drugs. Below, we identify the specific drugs that are commonly consumed at universities and colleges around the UK.
Depressants include drugs such as cannabis, benzodiazepines, and alcohol. Depressants are so-called because they ‘depress’ the central nervous system. This causes everything to slow down. When students consume depressants, they will feel less motivated to attend lectures and seminars. Depressants thus negatively impact students' studies and overall academic performance.
Depressants affect students’ mental health in many different ways. For instance, using depressants such as alcohol is known to cause anxiety and depression. Alcohol is also toxic to the liver and the kidneys. When students are under the influence of alcohol, they are also more likely to become involved in an accident and to be the victim of criminal acts. This is explored in detail below.
Stimulants have the opposite effect of depressants. This means stimulants speed everything up. Stimulants increase alertness and energy levels. Ironically, students are known to abuse stimulants to actually improve academic performance. Some students have been known to abuse ‘legal highs’ that are stimulants. Many of these drugs are untested and manufactured in China and India where no quality control is put in place.
Many stimulants are illegal and highly dangerous. This includes cocaine, crystal meth, speed, and ecstasy.
Hallucinogens include LSD and magic mushrooms. Hallucinogens cause users to hallucinate. Many students abuse hallucinogens because they associate these drugs with new experiences and as an expression of independence. Many hallucinogens are not addictive. However, hallucinogens may cause long-term mental health problems such as psychosis and schizophrenia.
The negative effects of addiction for students
Below, we list many of the negative effects that occur when student addiction arises. We hope the below will serve to inform students of the risks they are exposed to when they chose to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
1. Poor academic performance
We feel it is obvious to say that drug and alcohol abuse will undoubtedly affect students’ academic performance for the worse. Each year, thousands of students must re-sit an entire year of university because they failed exams due to drug and alcohol abuse. Much more will receive poor grades because their academic performance was hindered by their addiction.
Drug and alcohol abuse negatively affects academic performance in a variety of ways. When an addiction arises to drugs or alcohol, students are likely to miss lectures and seminars. Drugs and alcohol also kill brain cells. This means students are less likely to understand and recall information during exams. Students under the influence of an addiction will also perform poorly on assessments, and these students are also more likely to hand in assessments passed the set deadline date.
2. Criminal acts
Drug and alcohol abuse also increases the chances of a student engaging in criminal acts. These acts include vandalism, urinating in public places, assault, and driving whilst under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.
3. Becoming the victim of crime
Drug and alcohol abuse increases students’ vulnerability to becoming the victim of crime. This includes the risks of experiencing physical/sexual assault and theft. Clearly, consuming drugs and alcohol serves to make students more vulnerable to becoming the victim of those with criminal intentions. When drugs and alcohol are consumed, students’ awareness of what is going on around them is impaired. Unfortunately, there exist people in society who are all too aware of this fact. Thus, criminals are known to target students who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
4. Unplanned sexual encounters
When students are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are also more likely to engage in unplanned sexual encounters. This may lead to unplanned pregnancies and becoming infected with a sexually transmitted disease.
5. Health problems, including alcohol and drug-related injuries
When students abuse drugs and alcohol, they are much more likely to sustain an injury. This is because drugs and alcohol impair cognitive skills. This may cause a loss of balance, resulting in a fall. Drugs and alcohol also impair vision. This also may result in physical injury, perhaps due to a fall.
Drug and alcohol use also causes users to feel more self-confident. This may result in users exposing themselves to dangerous situations in an attempt to impress their peers.
Health complications arising from drug and alcohol abuse include:
- Impaired immune system
- Stomach ulcers
- High blood pressure
- Loss of brain cells
- Liver damage
- Drug/alcohol poisoning
- Heart complications
Preventing addiction amongst students
Now we have explored the causes and effects of student addiction, we now offer up practical advice to help students either avoid or mitigate drug and alcohol addiction. We offer this advice to educators, parents, and students themselves.
1. Preparing young people for life away from home
We feel it is important for schools and parents to better prepare students for the shock of beginning studies in a foreign environment. This includes preparing students for the new found freedoms they will experience when they relocate in a different city or town. Offering up this education will help young people avoid taking advantage of their independence in ways that will negatively impact their health and their studies.
2. Drug and alcohol abuse education
We feel parents and schools have a duty to educate young people about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Many young people associated drug and alcohol with positive images such as going to parties and having fun. Often, young people are simply not made aware of the risks of taking drugs or alcohol, and these positive images are thus allowed to draw out their appreciation of the risks they expose themselves to when drug and alcohol are abused.
3. Expelling drug deals and limiting the sale of alcohol on campus
Many universities simply do not do enough to expel drug deals from their campuses. Some students will choose to make an income from selling drugs to other students. It’s important for universities to employ tactics to try to eliminate this practice from their campuses. This could include installing CCTV equipment around campus and employing security guards to enforce a strict no-drugs policy. The police should always be informed when university officials suspect the sale of illicit drugs on their campuses.
We also commend colleges and universities who limit the sale of alcohol on their campuses. Some educators have gone even further by promoting social events that do not involve the sale of alcohol, banning the advertising of alcohol on campus and denying alcohol companies the right to sponsor university sports teams.
Getting more help
To learn how Rehab 4 Addiction is able to assist you or your loved one through an addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact our team today on 0800 140 4690. Each year, Rehab 4 Addiction helps thousands of students and their families in locating addiction treatment that’s right for their needs.